The Florence Files: Middle Class Linen Gamurra 
Recreated by La Signora Onorata Katerina da Brescia.

Item - a gamurra/ kirtle of lavender linen garded with amarnate* cotten, lined with canvas, in the middle class Florentine style. (1580's)

This piece of garb was originally intended for 'more period whenching garb' for the annual Wayward Tavern Feast. Also intended for tourney and camping garb, it was meant to be practicle and cool, for summer wear. While wool was a more popular for outer garments in the 1500's, I had read about linen being used for infants outerwear (Dress in the Middle Ages, p22) and 15th century inventories (Florence countryside) state fabrics of vegetable fibres were used to maker outer garments (Dress in the Middle Ages p 44). Faustian (cotton and linen) being made in Northern Italy ('Faustian-a-Napes' was used in Elizabethan England - QEWU). Faustian was used for "doublets and for making summer outergarments" (Dress in the Middles Ages, p 23). Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd also mentions Faustian being used to make doublets. So, as wool and I do not agree, I decided to make cool linen garb for the Innilgard hot summers (often over 35- 45 deg. Celcius).

Main inspiration came from Vincenzo Campi's paintings of Middle class Italy, in the late 1500's. The Fruit Seller (upper left) shows front gards similar in pattern to those I used. The Kitchen Scene (upper right) shows the back garding. This painting also shows back lacing which I normally employ in my garb. However, as I was intending on using this for camping garb also, it had to be easily put on by myself. Front lacing was easier for this. Examples of front lacing can be seen (left) in a painting, attributed to Campi, called Christ in the House of Mary and Martha. The woman in the background right, of the Fruit Seller could also possibly have a front laced gamurra. Pietro Ronzelli's Nativita di Maria (below left) also shows front lacing as well as the contrasting garding (Florentine). All portraits show examples of partlets being worn with the middleclass 'outfit'. This is 'ladder laced'.

Below are closer examples of the garding. Cartridge pleating can also be seen, in The Fruit Seller (below right) to attatch the skirt to the upper body.I thought also interesting to note the woman who has tied her sleeves behind her back to keep them out to the way while working.

My Interpretation:

This piece of tourney garb is practicle and cool, in linen.The upper bodies were made with front lacing for ease of use. It was lined with canvas and linen. The gards were made from bias-cut strips of cotton drill (this was a budget outfit. Luckily I had managed to get the linen on sale) which were hand sewn onto the gown. The skirt was cartridge pleated to the upper bodies. In an effort to keep the bodies flat, without wearing a corset, I tried a method used on the Festive Atyre website. This was a new method to me and seems to work reasonably well.
Left is the finished outfit. There was enough material to make a matching, summer outfit for Morgan (aged 2 1/2 years, here). Below are details of the garding. The apron was copied from The Kitchen Scene, being a dark bluish colour. Linen was quoted as being used for these protective coverings (Dress in the Middle Ages, p 22)

The finished outfit and linen 'apron' worn at the Wayward Tvern Feast, December, 2003.

I must give credit to the wonderful work at the Festive Atyre - which was a source of information and inspiration to me.

Piponnier, Francoise & Mane, Perrine Dress in the Middle Ages, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1997. ISBN: 0-300-08691-1

Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd.

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